May 17

Charles Luther was born on this day in the year 1847. Even though he was raised in a godly home, he was not born again until his senior year at Brown University. Charles grew up with a love for journalism and for a time he worked on a newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts. But the man had the gift of a fine voice. He became a preacher of the gospel and in the course of his services he often sang. He sang the standard hymns, but also over time he began writing his own lyrics.
While Luther was pastor of the Baptist church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Evangelist A. G. Upham came for a series of meetings. In one of his sermons, entitled “Stars for Your Crown,” Upham referred to a young Christian man whom he met, dying in a nearby hospital. The young man said, “I am not afraid. Jesus saves me now. But, I have not been able to lead even one such as I was, to Christ… No, I am not afraid to die; but oh! If I go – must I go empty handed?”
As he sat listening, the evangelist’s illustration struck Luther’s heart. Later that evening he jotted down the words – “Must I go, and empty-handed? Thus my dear Redeemer meet? Not one day of service give Him, Lay no trophy at His feet?”
Charles Luther wrote about 25 sacred songs. “Must I go and empty-handed” was set to music by George Stebbins, and in 1887 they were all printed in a volume entitled “Beautiful Beckoning Hands. “ “Must I go and empty-handed” is Luther’s only song still remaining in God’s service. It still asks a very good question.